Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Drinking From the Firehose of Knowledge

Piazza de Ferrari

Today is our one year anniversary in Italy.  For the last several weeks I've been thinking about this past year and what it means to live in this beautiful but complicated country.  But I've also been thinking about how completely nuts I've become trying to drink it all in and practically drowning in the process.  So, in no particular order, here's what I've learned so far...

... about living in Italy

Crazy, chaotic, frustrating, enigmatic, inscrutable, beautiful, fabulous Italy.  Warning: Not for the faint of heart.

Genova Nervi

...about electricity

It is not absolutely necessary to have the dishwasher and the hairdryer on at the same time.  The dishes can wait. 

St. George's baby dragon

...about learning Italian

If you speak it, it will come.  Piano, piano.

The Biosphere

...about Italian food

If you don't like fish, don't live in a port town.
If you don't want to eat cephalopods, learn what they're called in Italian.
If you want bucatini all'amatraciana either cook it yourself or move to Rome, 'cause you won't find it  here.
There are 300 different shapes of least.

Cattedrale di San Lorenzo

...about Italian television

Dreadful, completely dreadful.

Chiesa del Gesu'

...about soccer

You always know when a goal is scored whether you want to or not.  Law of Physics: Sound rises!

Lo stadio from our hill

...about being tall

There are advantages and disadvantages:

Advantage - When standing in the bus, people can't see you haven't done your roots in weeks.
Disadvantage - You can't sit down.

Advantage - When standing in the bus you can reach the bar along the top of the bus to hang on.
Disadvantage - Other people's heads are in your armpit, a situation that is socially awkward.
Advantage - My head isn't in someone else's armpit, a situation I go to great lengths to avoid...especially in summer.

Advantage - You can reach products on the highest shelf.
Disadvantage - Everyone knows you can reach so you spend half your time getting things off shelves for other people.

Advantage - You can wear things short people can't wear.
Disadvantage - None of those things are sold in Italy.
Palazzo Tursi

...about Italians

They're great, except that their idea of personal space and mine differ by about 12".

San Fruttuosa

...about being an Expat

My countries are my countries.  I don't love one the less because I live in the other.

Carlo Felice Opera House

...about husbands

You know you have a great one when he adopts your dream as his own, and only whines a little bit.

Castello Mackenzie from our dining room

...about blogging
Sometimes I would rather stick needles in my eyes.  Most of the time my little exercise in self-absorption is joyful and incredibly satisfying.

Chiesa di San Giorgio

...about things I miss

My kids
An American size refrigerator
My kids
ethnic food
My kids

Palazzo Ducale

...about things I don't miss


La Lanterna and the working port

...about Genova

Living in Genova is like peeling an onion, there's always another layer you didn't expect. 

...about the future, well, there's always...


  1. Thank you Annika, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Great anniversary post, Mom. Wish I could be there with you right now and for a long time after.

  3. Wish you were here as well baby girl. We need to talk! Or wait until you see tomorrow's post, it's a shocker.

  4. This really had me laughing out loud in spots! Great stuff, keep it coming.

  5. Drinking from the firehose! That expresses it exactly!
    My wife and I have been living and learning the expat life for 3 years now, first in Turkey and now in the Czech Republic. Italy may be next for us.
    Traveling, living and enjoying it all.

  6. Oh my Steve, I love Turkey. Haven't been for quite a few years, but if I could have gotten a job in Istanbul, I would have stayed for a couple of years.

  7. Happy Anniversary! I can't believe that you have been in Genova for a year already. Your pictures are breathtaking!!!

  8. Can you believe it Gil! It went by sooooo fast. Glad you like the photos.

  9. Happy Anniversary Mary! Am loving this post soooo much especially the personal space one and the fact that you can't buy clothes for tall people. You can't buy them for slightly larger than a size 10 either even though there are loads of large Italian women. Where do they find clothes???

  10. I've been tempted so many times to ask people where they buy their clothes, but haven't yet worked up the nerve. Soon though, very soon!

  11. Jamie thinks I should go up to the larger woman on the street and say: 'Lei è grassa. Dove compra i suoi bei vestiti?' D'ya think it would work?? ;-D

  12. Gee, gotta say I'd recommend against it! Might find yourself on the ground with a black eye;-)

  13. I also loved this post. I could really relate to the fish comments and the personal space, has a feel of SE Asia. Re: Clothing - OVS has some + sizes, but I warn you the manufacturers think larger girls are built like Humpty Dumpty. It was hard to find pants that were not too tight in the leg but too big at the waist???? I'm sure I look even more ridiculous than usual but hey, it's getting cold. Sally in Quarto.

  14. Hi Mary,
    I stumbled on your blog when I typed 'where to find buckwheat flour in Genova' and Google kindly led me to your answer in the 'Expats in Italy' forum. I actually didn't expect to have the answer drop so directly into my lap, so thank you very much! :)
    Out of curiousity I decided to click on your link and am pleasantly surprised by your nice blog and humourous writing. :) And nice pictures too!
    Love this post as you put into words so aptly what I feel about this country in the last months. (It's a love-hate feeling I think.)
    I just arrived in Genova in Jan this year, am a student, hence am stuck here for the next 3 years. Not that I dislike Genova, it's just that there's a lot to get my head around in the beginning. Can I get some recommendations from you about where are good places around this area to visit? :) Thanks so much!
    You can count me as a regular reader now.
    Ping (from Singapore)